The sun is so bright that it’s difficult to get a shot of it and anything else with any kind of detail in either. At best, one can usually only get a silhouette of people or things in the foreground. Such was the case of the annular solar eclipse on May 20. Despite the partial covering of the sun by the moon it was still so bright that most shots around the world were of buildings, birds or people silhouetted in front of it. There have been some that been circulated that do show a perfectly detailed foreground with the eclipse in the sky, but those are composite pictures stitched together via Photoshop, as The Sacramento Bee did for their front page (which they identified as such).
This photo, which I shot during the eclipse, does, indeed, show what appear to be non-silhouetted palm trees with the sun beginning its eclipsing cycle rising in the sky behind them. But other than a little lightening of the image, there is no Photoshop involved. “How so?” you may ask.
During the Stockton Astronomical Society’s eclipse viewing party, Bill Maxwell of Stockton came up to me with a welder’s helmet and bade me to shoot through it. As I brought the camera up to my eye, I didn’t stick my head all the way into the helmet. Instead I stood back just a bit. Although the intensity of the sun was diminished because of the helmet’s thick, dense glass, it shone through, and nothing else did. By standing back a bit, I could see and photograph the reflection of the blue sky and palm trees that were behind me as well and made it look that it was all one scene.